GIRARD — The Girard High School football team punched its ticket to regionals on Thursday with a 25-0 win over Iola on Frank Jameson Field.
The game clock quickly ticked away through the night, as both teams relied heavily on the running game, but the Trojans had the upperhand by keeping the Mustangs out of the end zone and capitalizing on scoring opportunities.
“Obviously, it’s a great win,” GHS head coach Neal Philpot said. “It gets us to the playoffs, which is exactly where you want to be. Even though our record is where it’s at, we’re still in it, and that’s something we’re proud of. I just think our guys played well. They struggled some adversity, but our defense was very resilient. Iola put together some drives and gained some yards, but our defense made plays when we needed to.”
In addition to earning a spot in the playoffs, the Trojans also took a moment to recognize the seniors in what was the final home game of the regular season.
The Girard seniors are Camden McFarland, Kyler Siebert, Chayce Couch, Austin Noe, Josiah Thomason, Matt Sabine, Will Rasnic, Clay Udock, James Finley and Cody Leonard.
“There’s a good group of seniors here,” Philpot said. “They’ve been open and receptive to the new things this year and that goes a long way. They’ve embraced it despite the team struggling a bit early on. They haven’t given up on the process and that goes a long way towards building a culture. We have good kids here and that starts with those seniors.”
Both teams were battling for field position in the opening quarter, but a blocked punt by Carter Doherty put the Trojans on the Iola 30-yard line to begin the second.
Girard capitalized on the field position, as Siebert ran into the end zone from 30 yards out on the first play of the new drive to give the Trojans a 7-0 lead.
Girard extended the lead to 13-0 in the early going of the second half on the strength of a five-yard touchdown run by Siebert.
The 8-play, 64-yard scoring drive began with a 27-yard run by Kreed Curran and was set up on a 12-yard run by McFarland which put the Trojans in the red zone.
The Trojans kept the momentum going in the second half, as they received the kickoff and went 64 yards in six plays and scored on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Siebert to Curran which pushed the score to 19-0.
Girard put the game out of reach with a touchdown in the early going of the the fourth quarter, as McFarland carried the ball into the end zone from the three-yard line to cap off a nine-play scoring drive.
The Mustangs moved the ball into the red zone on the next drive, but a sack by McFarland on fourth down gave the Trojans possession of the ball with the clock working in their favor.
Girard will head to Frontenac to take on the Raiders in the regional round at 7 p.m. on Friday.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer